Friday , January 22 2021

Ebola outbreak: Congo health workers face violence as viruses spread

Conflict between militant groups and government forces made it difficult for health workers to access the most affected areas.

On Friday evening, an armed group attempted to attack the UN peacekeepers in the city of Beni in the province of North Kivu – the epicenter of the outbreak.

According to the Ministry of Health, the attack occurred near the Ebola Emergency Response Center and hotels, in which many Ebola medical staff remain.

Peacekeepers were able to push the attackers after several hours of clashes, but all field activities were suspended on Saturday in Beni due to violence. The emergency center remained closed, and the teams had to stay in their hotels.

Earlier this week, at least seven peacekeepers were killed, and another 10 were injured as a result of a coordinated military attack against the rebel forces, said the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The peacekeeping organization collaborated with the Congolese armed forces in an operation to oust insurgent allied democratic forces and “restore peace and stability in the Beni area,” the UN statement said.

The deadly violence in the province of Congo in North Kivu hampered efforts to eradicate the Ebola virus, said Olu Ilunga Kalenga, the country's public health minister.

Infants among the dead

The outbreak — the second of this year — began in the province of North Kivu, and then spread to the province of Ituri in the east of the country. This is the 10th time since 1976, when Ebola hit the Congo.

Ebola outbreak in the history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Of all reported cases, 311 have so far been confirmed as Ebola and 47 are likely. Among the deaths, 166 are confirmed as being caused by Ebola and 47, probably according to the country's ministry of health.

The World Health Organization has reported that among those killed in the outbreak of pregnancy are pregnant and lactating women, newborns and babies. According to WHO, more than 30 health workers are also infected.

Fear of spreading

Congo shares borders with nine countries, and the United Nations fears that the Ebola epidemic could spread to South Sudan due to the influx of Congolese refugees.

“Doctors without Borders” are on the ground in the Congo and have also deployed teams to neighboring Uganda, although so far no cases have been confirmed.
Flash and war spread fear of DR Congo’s neighbors
However, the World Health Organization said on Thursday that "the risk of spreading the epidemic in other provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as in neighboring countries, remains very high."

Kalenga, the Minister of Health, posted a video on the Ministry of Health’s Facebook page at the beginning of Saturday, urging communities to be vigilant and report any signs of illness.

“Community based surveillance is at the heart of the new Ebola response strategy. Each resident at his own level can protect his family and neighborhood from the virus by reporting any alarming and suspicious cases to emergency teams. All the #beni neighborhood leaders work with us in response, ”he wrote.

    A health worker carries a four-day child suspected of having Ebola in the city of Butembo.


Ebola first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the Congo and got its name from the river in the last nation. It is one of the most dangerous viruses in the world and is transmitted through direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids of infected people.

Ebola Fast Facts

Ebola causes fever, severe headaches and in some cases hemorrhage. It is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids or objects infected with a diseased patient. In some cases, the virus spreads through contact with a person who has died from the disease.

The virus enters the body through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth. It can also be spread through sexual contact.

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